Case Study

Zappos: Keeping the wow post-Amazon

14 pages
September 2010
Reference: IMD-6-0325

Since Zappos was founded in 1999 as an online shoe retailer, the brand had been synonymous with WOW customer service and a unique corporate culture. In just ten years, the company had grown to achieve more than $1 billion in gross sales. More recently, it had expanded beyond selling shoes into clothes and other categories, such as kitchen items and housewares. On 22 July 22 2010, one year after announcing that Zappos would be sold to Amazon – in a deal that eventually closed in November 2009 at $1.2 billion –Tony Hsieh, the CEO of, reassured employees and stakeholders that it was business as usual – Zappos was continuing to operate as an independent entity with its brand and unique culture intact. The questions this case raises include: Would Zappos be able to continue to preserve its unique culture now that it was owned by Amazon? And, given its aggressive growth objectives, was the WOW factor scalable?

Learning Objective

Most companies claim they want to provide excellent customer service, but often it is just lip service. This case illustrates how Zappos builds and excels at customer service. The company not only focuses on the customer experience at the front end, but also delivers its promise from the back end. It changed its business model from asset-light to fixed asset investment to deliver this WOW experience. The whole organization lives and breathes WOW customer service, which stems from its unique corporate culture. The combination of corporate culture, customer service and supply chain make Zappos stand apart.

Corporate Culture, Customer Services, Supply Chain Management, Production Management, Operations Management
United States of America
1999 – 2010
Published Sources
© 2010
Available Languages
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